Afghanistan: Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan Gains Foothold

Radio Free Europe reports on the growing presence of Uzbek extremist group The Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan in Afghan combat zones. The group has reportedly gained a foothold in at least eight different Afghan provinces, where it has established training and logistical operations. The group had previously found refuge in Northern Pakistan after being forced from Afghanistan by international coalition forces and previously from Uzbekistan by Islam Karimov’s government. However, the IMU seems to have benefited from the withdrawal by the majority of coalition forces late last year and the weakening Afghan security situation.

Author Ahmed Rashid has profiled the IMU for years and states in the report that their intentions are to develop a launching pad in Afghanistan from which they could “rebuild their sanctuaries in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.” This seems to be true, at least according to the scale of the IMU’s activities, which consist primarily of violence near the Tajik, Uzbek and Turkmen borders. For instance, much-publicized Taliban attacks on Kunduz appear now to have been joint operations carried out by Taliban and affiliated forces led principally by the IMU. The IMU remains a “coherent organization.”

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